John Stones sits out Manchester City’s season opener against Burnley tonight (August 11) and the club’s fans are exasperated.
The English defender was a stalwart at the back for Pep Guardiola’s treble winners last season. Stones featured 34 times across competitions, helping the Cityzens keep 15 clean sheets. He also chipped in with three goals and as many assists and flourished in a new midfield role on occasion.
Stones was also part of the Manchester City side that suffered a defeat to Arsenal in the Community Shield last Sunday. However, the 29-year-old has been ruled out of tonight’s encounter at Turf Moor with an injury.
Guardiola is also without Stones’ defensive partner Ruben Dias and thus his starting lineup may not be the strongest one he’ll put out this season. The Spanish tactician has selected Ederson in goal, with Kyle Walker, Manuel Akanji, Nathan Ake, and Rico Lewis in defense.
Meanwhile, Rodri, Kevin De Bruyne, and Bernardo Silva are in midfield. Erling Haaland leads the line alongside Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez. Haaland will be eager to kickstart his campaign with an eye-catching performance after last season’s brilliance.
However, Manchester City fans are disappointed not to see Stones make the side for the Cityzens’ defense of the league title.
One rival fan has backed Burnley to be ahead by halftime as a result of the Englishman’s absence:
“No Stones? You are sure losing at HT.”
Another fan reckons Guardiola has cursed the City defender:
“”The Pep curse starting already – wdym no stones???”
Here’s how Twitter reacted to Stones’ absence against Burnley:
Pep Guardiola on John Stones adaption to new midfeld role at Manchester City
Stones took to his new center-back-plus-midfielder role at Manchester City with ease last season. The England international fit in seamlessly to midfield when the Cityzens were advancing forward.
It was a campaign to remember for the former Everton defender who was a standout performer for Guardiola. The Spanish coach was full of praise for the versatile center-back in April, explaining how he saw Stones’ qualities to perform the role in training. He told the club’s official website:
“We saw some specific things [in John] with the ball, especially in the build-up. We were happy to have him but all that he has achieved here and with the national team belongs to him.”
Guardiola continued by lauding not just his defensive capabilities but Stones’ composure in possession:
“We know the qualities, who is fast, not fast, who has the ability to make the receptions, their body shapes and the quality of the pass, the vision, anticipate what happens, one against one – you discover them. You see them day-by-day, after training, game-after-game and you realise it.”
Stones added goal contributions to his game last season with six to his name which is a superb showing for a defender. Manchester City fans will be eager for him to return to full fitness quickly.